San Diego Law Review


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On November 5, 1996, California voters struck a severe blow to affirmative action by approving Proposition 209 as an amendment to the California Constitution.' Embodied as article I, section 31, the primary thrust of the initiative provides that "[t]he state shall not discriminate against, or grant preferential treatment to, any individual or group on the basis of race, sex, color, ethnicity, or national origin in the operation of public employment, public education, or public contracting."2 While seemingly straightforward, section 31, like other constitutional imperatives or prohibitions, may be easier to enunciate as a legal principal than it is to apply in practice. The devil may be in the details, and California courts have only begun to grapple with questions of interpretation and the scope of section 31.

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